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Keywords:

  • calcium;
  • functional properties;
  • Mozzarella cheese;
  • proteolysis

ABSTRACT:  This study evaluated the effect of cheese pH on proteolysis, calcium distribution, and functional characteristics of Mozzarella cheese. On 4 occasions, cultured low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella cheeses were obtained from a commercial producer on the day after manufacture. Cheese blocks were randomly assigned to 2 groups. One group was shredded, subdivided, and exposed to either ammonia vapor to increase the pH or HCl vapor to decrease the pH. Samples were vacuum packaged, stored at 4 °C, and analyzed for pH 4.6 and 12% TCA soluble nitrogen, apparent viscosity, free oil, and water-soluble calcium on days 5, 12, 22, and 40. The 2nd group was sectioned into 23-mm thick slabs and similarly exposed to either ammonia vapor to increase the pH or HCl vapor to decrease the pH. The slabs were vacuum packaged, stored at 4 °C, and analyzed for pH 4.6 and 12% TCA soluble nitrogen, TPA hardness, springiness and cohesiveness, and meltability on days 17, 29, and 41. Data were analyzed by ANOVA according to a spilt-plot design. Experimentally induced pH differences persisted and significantly affected TPA hardness, apparent viscosity, meltability, and water-soluble calcium throughout 40 d of storage, but did not affect soluble nitrogen changes. Thus, cheese pH affected functional characteristics and calcium distribution but did not affect proteolysis rates. Higher cheese pH resulted in a harder cheese that required longer aging to develop desirable melting characteristics, whereas cheese with lower pH developed desirable melting characteristics more quickly but had a shorter functional shelf life.